Spring 2014 Impressions

So it seems anime does this thing where new shows come out each season. And then bloggers write up a bunch of first impressions on shows, because we’re all important people with opinions that are important and stuff and like to type up things and LOVE ANIMU, which people read because IMPORTANT REASONS. Of course, since I’m a blogger, I’ve decided to join the club. Given how many of these there are around (from people who are much better at writing about shows than me), and because there’s no way I can ever top this, I’m just going to quickly comment on the slew of shows I’ve seen so far. These’ll be brief, and are meant to be more of a description of interesting things I’ve seen in shows as well as an indirect channel for talking about my excellent taste.

Screenshot 2014-04-12 13.44.47

Akuma no Riddle: Continues the trend of “put a bunch of people in a room, lay down rules, and then have them try and kill each other” type of thing in the style of Battle Royale and co. Past that, there’s nothing really “special” about it I’ve seen thusfar other than the fact that all the assassin’s are girls. It feels similar to Danganronpa because the personalities all happen to be pretty distinctive, but no action has happened yet (as of episode 2). Not going to continue.

Black Bullet: A lot of people are probably saying “this had such a great sci-fi/fantasy setting and then it threw in a bunch of anime cliches WHYYYYYYY”, but I think that’s sort of the charm of shows like this. The weird mix of “end of the world” setting with “high school” and “adoring loli” is the type of thing you can only get in a medium like this. Besides lots of action, it also has an interesting thread involving discrimination with the Cursed Children. Interested.

Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou: The color scheme in this is pretty gorgeous (I’m a sucker for bright colors and high contrast). There’s a lot of gag comedy (rapid-fire manzai-esque stuff) going on between Usa and the other residents due to their strange personalities, plus a very intense crush. Still, in the end, I was a little bit bored.  Dropping, but might check back if reception is good.

Captain Earth: The first episode has some great directing and use of temporal cuts, which switches back and forth between flashbacks and the present very naturally. The mecha launch sequence was by far the most realistic thing I’ve seen, and the concept of the “Livlaster” is very intriguing. Pretty sci-fi heavy with a lot of unintelligible terminology and a lot of backstory that has to be filled in. The idea of covering both sides of the conflict between Earth and whatever the Kiltgang are simultaneously is pretty cool so far and an interesting storytelling choice. Curious at where this will go.

Date A Live II: Exactly the same as the first season. Meta-commentary on otaku culture/eroge and an exploration of harem-building and the concept of love (honestly!). Otherwise, it’s pretty dumb. Continuing.

Fuun Ishin Dai Shogun: I liked the idea behind this and the role reversal with the virgin male necessary to pilot the mecha. That said, the animation got to me a bit (especially the mouths). I’m tempted to give this one another shot because I feel like it might be some weird meta-commentary on things (plus it has Dai Sato and J.C. Staff behind it), but at the moment it just came across as…odd (and possibly cheap). Dropped…for now?

Haikyuu!!: The animation on this is really good. Not necessarily original story though – very cliched shounen sports plot so far. Character designs are interesting, and the main duo have a good dynamic that looks like it’ll lead to some good learning experiences. Generally though, the speed of these types of shows are too slow for me (a lot of dialogue and shouting, not very much actual “sports”), but I’ll wait and see. Following for now, but might drop later.

Isshuukan Friends.: The color scheme is super bright — gives off the impression of unreality or idyllic experiences in the same vein as Usagi Drop. Dialogue between the characters is pretty good, and I think captures their age/demeanor quite well. I was impressed by how the show manages to convey a lot of complex expressions/emotions (recognition, coldness, fear) using such limited facial features. Especially good use of the eyes. I was skeptical of this becoming over-dramatic, but the development in the first two episodes was actually very controlled and showed really good character growth. Count me charmed.

JoJo: DIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. WRYYYYYYYYYYYY.

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: Feels like a weird cross between NouCome and WHO IS IMOUTO (and similar to ImoCho), as in it’s pretty ridiculous and dumb but not so much to really be impressive (in either a good or bad way). Like every LN adaptation, it has a good basis — it’s similar to Date a Live except with a “wouldn’t life be great with flags to show everything but life isn’t that easy and relationships are difficult and managing them and learning about other people is important” type of thing instead of a focus on love. All the characters have complicated/dark pasts which tie into them wanting to be friends with the Hatate. Tropes and meta-commentary everywhere. Dialogue is really fast. Ended up being uninteresting to me, but might be someone else’s thing. Dropped.

Kenzen Robo Daimidaler: This is by far the most immature show I’ve seen for a while. Lot of “front tails” waving around, giant left arms, ejaculation references, porn mags, and other craziness. The show points out multiple times how dumb it is and definitely has drawn Kouichi to look like a creep (and portrays him to be an all around actual horrible immature guy), so I don’t think we should be taking many of the things it’s doing seriously. Might be weird meta-commentary on the state of most of these types of fanservicey things and attitudes? Opening episode is good, second episode is more ridiculous because it involves more Penguin Empire antics. LET THE FRONT TAILS CONTINUE.

Mahouka: MC is clearly meant to be “perfect“. I love imoutos, so this one got me hook, line, and sinker. Production values are high, plot is very anime-esque (in that it’s futuristic/sci-fi, harem-y, wincest, and set in high school). Interesting stuff on class differences between 1st-class and 2nd-class (“weeds”) students. Definite commentaries on education. Worldbuilding almost nonexistant so far, although magic system has been getting indirectly fleshed out. Actually not that impressive to me, but continuing.

Mekaku City Actors: A lot of Shaft-like stuff going on, which I think works well here. Gives off an oppressive atmosphere, intense focus on MCs, lots of eye imagery (they have eye powers), clocks, space, draws attention to animation and narrative quality, etc. I like it and think it’s fitting, although others might not. Snagged my interest.

No Game No Life: Definitely the flashiest opening of the season with really bright colors. Lots of “skewed narrator” commentary a la Oregairu from the POV of the older brother. Interesting parallels between hikikomori and Tet’s ascendance to power in the mythos of the alternate reality they are transported to. Clever camera work that simulates how the duo “cheats” (from the POV of those being cheated) so far. Imouto = win. Main brother is an ass and looks like a sociopath. Sister also might be a sociopath, given her inability to comprehend “illogical” decisions. Clearly unrealistic. Evidence points to interesting discourses on wish fulfillment type narratives, trope inversions, and interesting games in the future. Given it’s only 11 eps, however, I’m curious about how much of this will make it into the season. VERY EXCITED.

Ping Pong The Animation: Regardless of art style, this has by far the best cinematography work I’ve seen in a long time, and does some really cool things with visuals and aesthetics (use of colors, negative space, symbolic repetition, etc.). The story is decently compelling and the character development has been surprisingly good given only one episode. Chinese voice actors were refreshing to hear. Count me in.

Sidonia no Kishi: If we’re talking about really good worldbuilding, this is it — a lot of fantastic “show don’t tell” going on here. It also shows you don’t need to drop a lot of fancy terminology (a la Captain Earth) to give a compelling world/backstory that viewers don’t understand. Small inserted details (like the photosynthesis remark) were perfect. The art style and CG are fascinating choices which I’ll need to see more of to really get a handle on. This looks like it really warranted the initial description I heard of as the sci-fi equivalent of Attack on TitanSO EXCITED.

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii: Actually very charming. The humor feels natural, the dialogue flows decently well — there’s some banter, but it’s not as hectic as Kawaisou. Not too much to say at the moment, but I’m at least interested in seeing more. Yay!

Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V: Yugioh has evolved once again, from roller coasters (Zexal) to…arenas? The implementation of “action matter” was a choice that reminds me a lot of the original Yugioh, but the actual opening dual was…weird. The ridiculous deux ex machina of the pendulum summoning at the end made me laugh though. At least I tried, right?

Nisekoi: Still like the best thing.

Tonari no Seki-kun: Still very entertaining. Goes to show that good camerawork, sound, and clever storyboarding can go a long way in a very small setting. The addition of another cast member also has gone quite well, with another unique personality added to the mix. Woohoo!

Overall comments: 

  • A lot of shows now making 4th-wall meta-commentary (even Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii snuck some in) — not sure how I feel about this trend since it’s become so pervasive.
  • Art styles still seem to be progressing in the “no noses” direction.
  • Is it just me, or are there a lot of lolis this season?
  • Just realized that in this season and the past season there’s been over half a dozen sports anime (holy crap!).
  • Surprised at the amount of bright color usage in a decent slew of shows: is this a thing, or just selection bias?

Okay – that’s that. What’re other people’s thoughts on the season? :)

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17 responses to “Spring 2014 Impressions

  1. Mahouka imouto is best imouto. I mean dat Hayami Saori voice. Who can resist?

    Unexpectedly, I ended up liking Mahouka better than No Game No Life, although both series are right up my alley in terms of anime bullshit. NGNL has a lot more energy and life to it overall. Its only real fault is the characters so we’ll see how subsequent episodes tackle that.

    The opening episode that was the most pleasant surprise was Haikyuu. I’ve always been into sports anime, and that was a really breathtaking opener. Sports series don’t usually start off so well.

    If you’re caught up with Nisekoi, who’s your favourite girl? What do you think of Marika? (She’s personally my fave!)

    I’m not watching much else anime. JoJo and Mushishi have been the best anime for me so far, and I’m not just saying that because I’m an aniblogger! Joseph Joestar is still by far the best character.

    • dat Hayami Saori voice

      HNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGG

      both series are right up my alley in terms of anime bullshit

      YES ONLY THE BEST ANIME BULLSHIT THIS SEASON.

      the most pleasant surprise was Haikyuu

      Definitely! I think I forgot to mention in the post just how well Haikyuu incorporated flashbacks into the volleyball game — I was actually slightly tearing up by the end.

      Marika?

      She’s just jumped up the contender rankings pretty high. I’m still with Onodera for now, but I’m tempted to switch over…

      Joseph Joestar is still by far the best character.

      AMEN.

    • What’d you think of the first episode? I kinda lost it at the pendulum summon and wasn’t really impressed with too much else, but the concept looked interesting at least!

      • The pendulum summoning was pretty ridiculous…I’m reserving judgment to see whether or not it’s a once in a blue moon kind of thing or if it’s going to be used as a cheap deus ex machina for every duel.
        My expectations for Arc-V were pretty low after being disappointed by Zexal but I actually liked the main character. Yuya as a pierrot character has the potential for some great character development so I’m cautiously optimistic.

  2. Black Bullet – Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally on board with super-powered lolis fighting ridiculous monsters. I’ll even tolerate the ridiculous pseudoscientific explanations. But man, the pacing and exposition in the first episode was downright horrible. Will stay for loli action and Shiro Sagisu soundtrack.

    Captain Earth – The whole rocket launch mecha initialization was awesome, but hopefully that’s a one-time deal. Can you imagine having to go through something like that every episode? The enemies’ mechas seemed far less “realistic”. Also, the most confusing first episode of the season. (Intentional? Or just bad habit?) There were like half a dozen secret organizations reacting to that launch.

    Daimidaler – Behold the terror of the Tail Dick Dance! They even featured that travesty of a website! And the penguins have names like Michael and Dennis! How could I not?!

    Isshukan Friends – The couple are charming, sure, but the first episode struggled to hold my attention overall. Peeking at the manga, I don’t expect it to get particularly dramatic. Half of each chapter is in 4koma format. Last season’s Mikakunin de Shinkoukei set a high bar for those.

    Jojo – I said it before on appropriant’s post and I’ll say it again here. All DIO is gonna do for all of two cours (three according to some hopefuls) until the last few episodes, is stand around shirtless in the shadows. (no pun intended)

    Haikyuu!! – My first venture into the realm of shounen sports anime. (Oh wait, I forgot to count the first episode of Free!) [Exclamation mark!] Not bad at all.

    Abarenbou Rikishi!! Matsutarou – And another sports anime, though they have practically no similarities besides [double exclamation marks]!! Also, significant lack of sumo wrestling in first episode, though huge potential for character development.

    Soredemo Sekai wa Utukushii – Neat protagonist, hoping for good dynamic between her and the shota emperor.

    Mekakucity Actors – Nice head tilt. Such Shaft. So slideshow. Much hoodies. Wow.

    Mahouka – Watching this with Jesus Tatsuya subs.

    No Game No Life – Splendid direction. The necessary exposition was handled expertly. The thing that worried most going in was the visuals and character design. They wisely abandoned the gradient hair colors, while keeping a vivid color scheme overall. The fantasy world looked great. Can’t wait for more!

    >> Art styles still seem to be progressing in the “no noses” direction.
    Surely noses have been disappearing for at least a decade now?

    >> Is it just me, or are there a lot of lolis this season?
    Seeing that Black Bullet has a whole tribe of lolis…
    But they’ll have to do some impressive stuff to match up to last season’s power lolis.

    • BB: Gotta love that “monologuing while fighting” and “randomg description during unrelated event” exposition.
      CE: Yea…that would be pretty bad lol. And definitely intentional — I’m just hoping it’s useful stuff and not just obfuscating bullshit.
      DAIMIDALER: THE BANANA OH GOD THE BANANA.
      Haikyuu!!: Oh wow – nice. BUT WHY DIDN’T YOU FINISH THE MASTERPIECE THAT WAS FREE?!?!?!
      Mekakucity: I’D LIKE MY SLIDESHOWS WITH SLIGHTLY MORE TILTED CLOCKS PLEASE.
      Mahouka: Those were brilliant. I anxiously await each new weekly Revelation.

      Noses: yeaaaaaaaaa. No resurgence in sight!
      Lolis: Shiro3strong5me already.

  3. ASSUREDLY, AN IMPRESSIONS POST MAKES THE GREATEST IMPRESSION WHEN YOU YELL YOUR OPINIONS AT YOUR READER LIKE YOU’RE TRAPPED IN AN ANIBLOG WIND TUNNEL OF OPINIONS.

    YOU HAVE MUCH TO LEARN, PADAWAN.

    • IT SEEMS I HAVE BEEN BESTED ONCE AGAIN. HENCEFORTH, MY OPINIONS SHALL BE SHOUTED OUT TO THE HEAVENS FOR ALL TO HEAR. IN TIME, I CAN ONLY HOPE TO BECOME SUCH A MASTER OF THE ART AS YOU ARE, O GREAT AND LOUD ONE.

  4. —I like the bright color schemes. I wouldn’t want nothing but, but it’s cool to have a season that feels like it’s got its own particular mood.

    —I didn’t notice a higher-than-usual loli concentration, but I feel like there might be more NEET main characters than usual? Might be my imagination, though.

    —I smell a cosmetic surgeon conspiracy. You heard it here first.

    —I actually had a harder time with Sidonia’s visuals than with Aku no Hana’s. I wonder what this says about me?

    —*sigh*, I suppose I’ve got to start checking out sports anime one of these days. Besides Chihayafuru, I haven’t even really tried.

    —If the first episode is any indication of the rest of the series (it might not be; you know how first episodes are), then I am going to love this series. I mean, Nisekoi’s cool, but not weird enough, and Sasami-san was weird, but was too animated… This one reminds me, weirdly enough, of Petit [sic] Cossette. Still holding out for more doctored photos and unmoving plaid, though.

    —Thank you for posting about Date A Live all that time ago. I watched it this past week and loved it. My kind of wow such anime.

    • I actually had a harder time with Sidonia’s visuals than with Aku no Hana’s.

      I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN RESPECT YOU AS A PERSON ANYMORE. In all seriousness though, that’s actually pretty interesting. Anything to do with the “fish eyes” art style?

      then I am going to love this series

      I have my fingers crossed. The manga adaptation was pretty meh, but my friend adores the light novels (and I really like the songs), so we’ll see where this goes! Shinbou’s really stretching himself thin again though, given that he’s supposed to also be working on Monogatari…

      My kind of wow such anime.

      Thanks – glad you enjoyed it ;). Watching the second season?

      • I think the thing with Aku no Hana was that the uncanny valley effect served a very obvious purpose, while Sidonia’s visuals feel sorta awkward to me (maybe just because they’re unusual, of course) without me being able to figure out why.

        And yeah, hell yes I’m watching the second season! And the show’s done enough with the dramatic side of things that I have reasonable hopes that it won’t go the way of, say, Infinite Stratos. Gross. (In that there are actually some obvious reasons for this story to continue.)

  5. To me the most striking thing about Yugioh Arc-V were the action cards. For ways by which the main character gets the cards they need, they’ve gone from luck in Duel Monsters and GX to card-conjuring superpowers in 5Ds and ZeXal. Now they run around and pick random cards up off the ground.

    • Good point – I had looked at action cards as being some whole new mechanic they introduced, but in retrospect this is just the latest incarnation of a long tradition of whipping out ridiculous cards out of nowhere lol.

      • I think another thing worth considering is how the gameplay has evolved with each season. At least from Duel Monsters to 5D’s, new rules have been added to make the gameplay much more streamlined and quicker. We had Advanced Summoning (sacrifices) in Duel Monsters, Polymerization in GX, and Synchro Summoning in 5Ds. (I haven’t seen Zexal so I can’t comment on how Overlay Summoning adds to this). I see the action cards as not just continuing the protagonist’s faith in his own luck (or just statistical probability), but also as a natural progression of the speed evolution of the gameplay. You start off with sluggish, stationary dueling and progress to actually riding and interacting with your cards in a changeable environment.

  6. Pingback: Spring 2014 Impressions: Round Two | Chromatic Aberration Everywhere·

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